Special report: Infusion pumps enter the age of integration

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | July 13, 2012
From the July 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Alternative safety features
Increasingly, today’s infusion systems focus on three core capabilities: reliability of design; robustness of the safety features; and wireless connectivity that enables data analysis of infusions and better, faster understanding of how the device is functioning, explains David Ferguson, vice president of infusion systems at Baxter Healthcare Corp.

An array of safety features are usually available on most pumps, including drug libraries, which issue alerts if a programmed infusion of a drug is outside of recommended parameters.

In April, Baxter completed its acquisition of SIGMA International. Baxter’s SIGMA Spectrum smart infusion system utilizes sophisticated drug error prevention software that helps clinicians avoid programming errors that may result in incorrect administration of infusion therapies. This software, embodied in the Master Drug Library, allows a facility to deliberately set upper and lower dosing limits on infused medications to ensure that programming errors by a clinician do not exceed the facility’s therapeutic guidelines.

Hospira’s Symbiq, with built-in MedNet safety software, was the first general infusion system developed to provide additional medication error protection by requiring users to select a drug library entry from the safety software for all drug delivery programs. KLAS’ report states that Symbiq infusion pumps have the highest reported safety software drug library compliance among large- volume pumps, at 93 percent. It is also one of the first devices to achieve smart pump EMR integration, also known as IVCI.

Although drug libraries catch most errors, blunders can still occur. In KLAS’ report, 23 percent of surveyed organizations reported serious medication incidents in the past two years and 60 percent of those were made while using drug libraries. In fact, the FDA continues to receive reports related to programming and administration errors, even when clinicians utilize drug libraries.

One case reported through the FDA’s Medical Device Reporting program dealt with an accidental administration of a non-therapeutic anticoagulation dose to a patient. The mix-up ultimately led to a lower extremity amputation. The dosing error possibly caused or contributed to this outcome, though the report was not conclusive. The user facility has since updated the drug library with new minimum hard and soft dose limits for heparin and implemented additional education for the nursing staff to prevent recurrence of this programming error.

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